Smith to start hot Thai Grand Prix from the fifth row

Posted on Oct 06, 2018 by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

The first of four overseas events for 2018 MotoGP saw the series arrive in Thailand and the flat and twisty layout of the Chang International Circuit provided the latest challenge for the FIM World Championship and for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team in just their second term in the premier class.

The facility in Buriram has been on the WorldSBK calendar for four years and the course was not completely unknown to the MotoGP pack thanks to their pre-season test at the venue in February. The slick asphalt baked in predictably high temperatures as the fans flocked in droves for the fifteenth GP of nineteen.

Bradley Smith hovered mid-pack through FP3 and FP4 and was agonisingly close to pushing his way towards the top half of the field. The Brit was just three tenths of a second from making the cut to Q2 and rested in 15th.

Bradley Smith (Factory Rider MotoGP):
“Another good day and it felt like we were close to the Q2. This track is quite narrow in a few places and I got held up. We are on that cusp of almost making it into Q2 (regularly), we’re around that middle group and it would be nice to crack that next step. We certainly have some ideas and WP will have some suggestions for Motegi. I think it is a set-up thing. It’s something we haven’t touched in quite a while…but it’s complicated. As for tomorrow I’m pleased that the track is in better shape and it is bizarre how the Hard tyre is working better than all the Mediums and I don't know why or how. I was able to do a run with the Hard at the end of FP4 and my pace is what I would expect. I’ll hope for a good start tomorrow and try to push for a top twelve; no one has done twenty-five laps here in the hunt so let’s see what happens“

Sebastian Risse (Technical Director):
“It has not been an easy weekend and this was to be expected, even more for Pol because of his return from injury again and having missed the test and the last phase of development for the bike. It is not easy to catch up. Both riders had to deal with the conditions, together with the tyre allocation and we still have not really got our heads around it. Special conditions means special tyres and they are different to what we had at the test so we are ‘starting from zero’ in a sense. Despite being the same spec not all of them felt the same. We tried looking into other areas to improve this and it will be essential tomorrow to get the tyre choice right; it will be the key to end up with a good spot in the race.”

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